That Was The Week That Was


• My unplugged concert for student teaching assistants in Bethel’s Western Civ course, caught on film by my trusty friend Sam.

Jazz, Nazi-style.

• The third and final part of my series recasting church history as family history looked at the disenchanting process of engaging in remembrance.

• My students and I had mixed feelings about the chapters in the “Theory and Method” section of Confessing History: Jim LaGrand’s warning that historians not preach? Thumbs up. Christopher Shannon’s call for “very partisan history” that centers on God’s actions rather than human agency? Not so much.

• And Pietism takes iTunes U by storm, as three podcasts from our April colloquium are now available for free download.

There and Everywhere

Just over two miles down the road from Bethel University is another evangelical school, Northwestern College. The proximity has fueled something of a rivalry over the years (when I was hired at Bethel, my uncle Lowell, a Northwestern alum, thought it funny to quote Amos 4:4a), but I’ve been happy to get to know my opposite number at NWC: History Department chair Jonathan Den Hartog, who will spend his upcoming sabbatical as a visiting fellow at Princeton’s James Madison program. Congratulations, Jon!

• I’m utterly fascinated by photographer Damaso Reyes’ now-seven year old project entitled “The Europeans” (a nod to Robert Frank’s “The Americans“), which captures the recent history of the European Union from a variety of angles.

• And for an earlier perspective on European unity, see Jean Renoir’s film Grand Illusion (about which I’ve previously blogged, in a post naming it one of the best World War I movies), subject of a new essay by New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

• Some of my favorite people are political scientists, but as a historian, it was all too easy to nod along with Gary Gutting’s critique of the social sciences: basically, while economics, sociology, etc. “may be surrounded by the ‘paraphernalia’ of the natural sciences…. Without a strong track record of experiments leading to successful predictions, there is seldom a basis for taking social scientific results as definitive.”

• Roger Olson: struggling valiantly to hold the evangelical center.

David Sedaris
David Sedaris – Creative Commons (WBUR)

• E.J. Dionne: refusing to abandon Catholicism.

• David Sedaris: blurring the line between non-fiction and fiction (or, “real” and “realish”).

• Marilynne Robinson reflected on the value of fiction and non-fiction in an interview that also found her defending her “unfashionable” style, declining facile “science vs. religion” narratives, and expressing a religious person’s admiration for secularism and the secular university.

• I’ve already called Robinson my favorite Calvinist. But Rich Mouw is probably a close second, especially after watching him try to navigate interfaith dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons. (If you’re not ready to buy his new book on the subject, you can find him interviewed in the excellent PBS documentary, The Mormons.)

• Consider me tantalized by the title of this recent talk by Jared Burkholder: “Pietism in the Evangelical Imagination.”

• A fascinating (sometimes surreal) journal of John Fea’s year spent promoting Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?

• Author Andrea Palpant Dilley on growing up in the church, leaving it, then coming back and realizing that “my doubts belong inside the space of the sanctuary. My questions belong on the altar as my only offering to God.” (H/T Christian Collins Winn)

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